Lives of the Great Gardeners

Stephen Anderton

Entertaining and accessible—the lives of the men and women, many of them multitalented artists, who created some of the world’s most extraordinary gardens, and whose legacy continues to inspire.

Throughout history, great gardeners have risen from all walks of life. Some have been aristocratic amateur gardeners, others professional designers with an international practice. Some have come to garden-making from sculpture or painting; some have been hands-on nurserymen or botanists. What they all have in common is the ability to take an idea and develop it to meet the needs and aesthetics of their times.

The book is organized into four thematic sections. Gardens of Ideas moves from the politically allusive gardens of eighteenth-century England to Charles Jencks’s Scottish garden inspired by twenty-first-century cosmography. Gardens of Straight Lines explores the lives of the great formalist gardeners, from Le Nôtre at Versailles to the rational English minimalism of contemporary designer Christopher Bradley-Hole. Gardens of Curves opens with that great exponent of the English landscape garden, “Capability” Brown, and moves on to the extraordinary Brazilian designer Roberto Burle Marx. Finally, Gardens of Plantsmanship arcs from the father of naturalistic planting, William Robinson, to the sweeping prairie-style of Piet Oudolf.

With images of gardens as they were originally seen, together with portraits of their makers and an outstanding text by the award-winning gardens writer for The Times, this book will appeal to garden lovers everywhere.


Stephen Anderton pays homage to gardeners throughout history in this wonderfully illustrated book. The 40 biographies, which cover 500 years of gardening around the world, plow cleanly through the lives and work of each gardener. He includes contextual cross-references and, before each biography, lists events from the gardeners' birth and death years. Anderton's style, erudite and whimsical, delightfully dominates. The nearly 250 illustrations balance his words in a sprightly and convivial marriage.

— Publishers Weekly

From this compilation of great gardeners, modern landscape architects and designers and home gardeners can learn some of the history and development of their art and craft.

— Booklist


Stephen Anderton


Stephen Anderton is a journalist, author, lecturer, and broadcaster. He is The Times’s longstanding writer on gardens and gardening.